John Kennedy Urges U.S. to 'Vaccinate the World' With 'Made in USA' Syringes

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) has said the U.S. should undertake to "vaccinate the world" with equipment clearly labeled as made in the country, adding that such a move would be an example of American leadership.

Kennedy made the suggestion during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Wednesday. He also discussed the steps he thinks President Joe Biden should take toward China.

The Biden administration announced on June 10 that the U.S. would donate half a billion Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to the world's poorest nations by June next year, but bureaucratic difficulties have meant distribution has been slow.

Kennedy told Fox News: "This is going to be controversial. We need, America needs, to vaccinate the world.

"You don't have to take the vaccine if you don't want it, but it is the right thing to do and it will make friends all over the world. And every vial, every syringe needs to have 'Made in the USA.'"

He added: "Let's show the world what American leadership is all about."

On Beijing, Kennedy told Hannity: "With respect to China—it's also true with Iran and Russia—weakness invites the wolves.

"If he wants to get President Xi's attention in China, President Biden should do two things immediately. Number 1, he should negotiate and sign a trade agreement with Taiwan. Whoa, that will get China's attention. And number 2, he needs to publicly back Australia.

"Australia has tried to stand up to China. China is boycotting all Australian goods. And Australia sends a lot of its exports to China. We need to come to the aid of Australia. And we need to speak loudly and clearly and tell the European Union we expect their help."

China is currently engaged in a trade war with Australia, while Taiwan is seeking a free trade agreement with the U.S. and Australia.

When reached by Newsweek on Thursday, Kennedy's office pointed to the fact that the senator had urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to distribute vaccines as a foreign policy measure on June 8. His comments at the Senate Appropriations Committee came two days before the Biden administration announced its vaccine donation plan.

"The virus came from China. The best vaccines came from the United States, and we have an opportunity right now to demonstrate to the world what American leadership looks like. We have an opportunity right now to do the right thing—to help save lives—to do the smart thing in terms of our national security," Kennedy said at the time.

The U.S. recently missed Biden's goal of sending 80 million Pfizer vaccines abroad by June 30. The administration had said 50 countries would receive vaccines, but fewer than 24 million doses were distributed to just 10 countries by the end of last month.

Addressing the missed goal, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on June 21: "What we've found to be the biggest challenge is not actually the supply—we have plenty of doses to share with the world—but this is a Herculean logistical challenge."

In a statement announcing the distribution of the 500 million doses, the White House said: "This is the largest ever purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country and a commitment by the American people to help protect people around the world from COVID-19."

Newsweek asked the White House for comment.

Update 7/8/21 9.50 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a response from Senator Kennedy's office.

John Kennedy Attends a Senate Committee Hearing
Senator John Kennedy at a budget hearing on Capitol Hill on June 8. The Republican lawmaker from Louisiana has called for the U.S. to "vaccinate the world." SHAWN THEW/POOL/AFP/Getty Images